How to Keep Bird Baths Thawed

Birds drink water all year, and it’s important to try to maintain a water source during the cold winter months. As a good bird host, you’ll need to pay special attention to keeping extra water sources unfrozen.

Here are some easy tips that will keep your wild birds’ water thawed:

1. Place your bird bath where it will receive a good dose of sunshine to keep it from icing over. You could also place it on the south side of the house and out of the wind.

2. If you plan to use a heater or pump, be sure to locate the bath near electricity.

3. Remember that you’ll need to walk to your bath to fill it when the snow is deep, so choose a spot with easy access. Garden hoses are out of the question in winter, and unless you have a water faucet next to your bath, you probably won’t enjoy trudging through deep snow toting a bucket of water.

4. Consider buying a bird bath with a built-in heater or, in somewhat milder climates, a built-in aerating pump.

5. You can simply fill your regular birdbath with hot water, if you don’t want to invest in a heater.

6. A black bird bath will warm up faster in the sun than lighter-colored baths.

7. You can also cover your bird bath at night with a piece of swimming-pool solar cover to help prevent heat loss.

8. Try using a moving float in your birdbath, such as a plastic milk jug tied to a rock for an anchor. The bobbing action will keep the water open in the same way a duck paddling atop icy water keeps the water from freezing.

9. If your winter weather conditions are extremely harsh, prevent the birds from bathing because their feathers might freeze before they can dry. Cover your birdbath with a plywood platform, with a small hole cut out for drinking, or place of section of pool liner or other cover over part of your bath to create a smaller opening. Add weights to the edges of the cover or tie it on securely so it won’t blow or flap in the wind.

Adapted from Natural Gardening for Birds by Julie Zickefoose and the Editors and Writers of Bird Watcher’s Digest (Rodale Press, 2001). Copyright (c) 2001 by Julie Zickefoose. Reprinted by permission of Rodale Press.


Richard B
Richard B20 days ago

Thank you for sharing

Sonia M

Good to know,thanks for sharing.

Mike R
Mike R11 months ago


Gordina Steckert
Gordina Steckert4 years ago

I have just noticed a few mistakes in this article. First of all, birds' feathers will never freeze over as they are water repellant. Secondly, they do get along in the winter and will even peck their way through ice and eat that to get water. They also bathe in the snow if necessary. Another source of water are drops falling from the trees (these can also be used for bathing). However, birds do appreciate open water in winter and will make use of bird baths often. Make sure your bird bath can withstand the cold and the heat as otherwise it might just crack. You will need a safe construction to prevent harm or fire but one bird lover placed a grave light underneath the bird bath and found that the water did not freeze over. The water must not become too hot, and animals should have no access to the fire. Continuously filling the bird bath with hot water yourself only lasts a limited amount of time and is usually unfeasible for people who have to go to work.

J.L. A.
JL A6 years ago

good tips

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton6 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Duane B.
.6 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Lu Ann P.
Past Member 7 years ago


Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Robert O.
Robert O8 years ago

Good tips!